One summer I visited sites of the seven churches of Revelation (Rev. 1–3). A congregation at each of these sites received a message from Jesus Christ. And while two thousand years separate us, their messages from Christ are still relevant.
Ephesus: The Ephesians lost their first love. Think about this. Nobody has to tell a fiancée to avoid flirting. Her actions reveal her loyalty. Do your works give evidence of your love?
Smyrna: Many think “Smyrna” is a Greek translation of the Hebrew “myrrh.” To make myrrh, one must crush a fragrant plant. In suffering, are you giving off a fragrant aroma to God?
Pergamum: Pergamum’s people worshiped at the temples of false gods. Yet sadly it was the words of their own teachers that pulled down the Christians. Are you discerning what is true?
Thyatira: Many experts think heretics encouraged Christian business owners here to join trade guilds that brought profits but involved immoralities. Are you compromising vs. enduring consequences for doing right?
Sardis: Smug citizens of Sardis felt nothing could reach them as they sat atop a 1,500-foot cliff. Yet Sardis fell to Cyrus after a soldier openly accessed a secret passageway. In what ways are you complacent about your strengths?
Philadelphia: Philadelphia had a long history of earthquakes. When the shaking stopped, only pillars were left standing. To people with little strength in Philadelphia, Jesus promised, “I will make you pillars.” Are you feeling weak in the faith? Ask God to help you endure to the end.
Laodicea: Water traveled six miles through an aqueduct to reach Laodicea. Mountain water arrived at “room-temperature” and steaming water from hot springs arrived lukewarm (see photo). Christ warned those in Laodicea against the “lukewarm” temperature of ho-hum faith. In what areas of your spiritual life are you passionless?
We need the same warnings as did our first-century brothers and sisters. And we also receive the same promises. Though poor, we can be rich. And we can dwell as pillars in the city of our God.
Dr. Sandra Glahn is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. She’s the author or co-author of more than twenty books including the Coffee Cup series. Learn more about the Book of Revelation by using her study Sumatra with the Seven Churches.